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U.S. men’s soccer team qualifies for 2024 Olympics, ends historic drought

U.S. men's soccer

US players celebrate after winning their Concacaf U-20 World Cup semifinal football match against Honduras at the General Francisco Morazan stadium in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on July 1, 2022. (Photo by Orlando SIERRA / AFP) (Photo by ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. men’s soccer team qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2008, ending its longest drought between Olympic appearances in more than 50 years.

The U.S. beat host Honduras 3-0 in a winner-to-the-Olympics match at the CONCACAF U20 Championship.

Honduras previously beat the U.S. in winner-to-the-Olympics matches for the Rio and Tokyo Games.

“It’s a tragedy,” U.S. coach Jason Kreis said after the latter defeat. Some of the biggest U.S. stars, including Christian Pulisic, were age-eligible for Olympic qualifying for Tokyo but were not on last year’s qualifying roster, either because they weren’t released by their clubs or because the U.S. was prioritizing senior friendlies ahead of World Cup qualifying.

The U.S. men last played in the Olympics in 2008, when an 18-year-old Freddy Adu scored the clinching goal in qualifying. They then missed three consecutive Olympics for the first time since 1960, 1964 and 1968 — a stretch where the U.S. also didn’t appear in a World Cup from 1954 through 1986.

Olympic men’s soccer rosters are made up of players born on or after Jan. 1, 2001, with three over-age exceptions.

Gio Reyna and Yunus Musah are the biggest U.S. stars who are under the Olympic age limit, and are likely to be on the World Cup roster this fall. They were too old for the Olympic qualifying tournament, though.

The U.S.’ only Olympic men’s soccer medals came at the 1904 St. Louis Games, when all participants won medals as only three club teams from Canada and the U.S. competed.

The other CONCACAF representative at the 2024 Paris Games will be the Dominican Republic, which has never competed in an Olympic soccer tournament.

The Dominican Republic beat Guatemala for its berth after Guatemala upset Mexico in its previous match, ending Mexico’s streak at three consecutive Olympic men’s soccer berths, including gold- and bronze-medal finishes in 2012 and 2021.

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